International Missions' Bank Service Interruptions (November 19, 2010)
November 19, 2010
The U.S. Government is aware that some banks intend to cease services to foreign missions in New York City and Washington, D.C. This is not unprecedented; as the banks regularly review their risk portfolios they evaluate and adjust their lines of business accordingly. We are also aware that while some banks are looking to reduce their involvement in this line of business, others are still willing to expand. The U.S. Department of State has already been in contact with some of the affected missions and is examining options for provision of banking services.
The Department has been in contact with the banks involved, but the U.S. Government does not direct private U.S. banks. We cannot require them to hold or maintain any account or client. The manner in which private banking institutions handle individual accounts is a business decision and in this instance is not a reflection of U.S. Government policy.
In the near future, the Department will meet with the Dean of the Diplomatic Corp to discuss the issue and will also be hosting a briefing by banking regulators for all Chiefs of Mission in an effort to help account holders better understand the current regulatory and business environments in which U.S. banks operate. The bank closures and the threat of closures do not target the African missions. This problem could
potentially affect a number of foreign diplomatic missions assigned to the United States from around the world.
“The Department of State seriously regrets the inconveniences – in some cases, very serious inconveniences – that African embassies and others have been subjected to as a result of actions by a number of American commercial banks,” Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson
Monday, November 15, 2010.
The Department of State is fully engaged and is seeking to develop a solution to this problem.